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Two Longtime Auto Dealers Plan Move to Tustin Center

September 22, 1985|BRUCE HOROVITZ | Times Staff Writer

Between them, they have 78 years in the auto business.

Now, after all those years of selling cars mostly from main street dealerships, Mike McLean and Joe Mac Pherson--two of the biggest local names in the auto business--are opening stores in the Tustin Auto Center.

Mac Pherson, in fact, is generally credited with the impetus behind the center. Two years ago he proposed the concept to the developer, the Irvine Co.

Mac Pherson plans to open at least two--and possibly three--dealerships in the Tustin center. He currently has a Chevrolet shop in the Irvine Auto Center and a Toyota outlet on Warner Avenue in Santa Ana. He said he still hasn't decided if his Toyota dealership will eventually be moved to an auto center.

Meanwhile, McLean has made up his mind to move his Cadillac dealership, which has operated from the same downtown Santa Ana location for nearly half a century.

"It's an inappropriate stigma," said McLean, "but the problem is the misconception that many people have of downtown Santa Ana. Some are afraid to come down here and shop." Because of that stigma, he said, "we've seen a gradual erosion of our business."

Within a year of the move to the Tustin Auto Center, he said, annual sales could double to $50 million from the current $25 million.

But the high costs behind moving to an auto center greatly increase overhead, Mac Pherson said. "So you really have to sell a lot more cars."

Although his most recent string of dealerships will have opened at two auto centers, Mac Pherson said that he is not limiting all future expansion to these malls. "Auto centers are here to stay, but they do not guarantee success."

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